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AISD Details Restructuring of Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools

A sign outside Pearce Middle School
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News
A sign outside Pearce Middle School

As we reported earlier this week, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Meria Carsatrphen said she plans to bring big changes to Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools. Today, she made the official announcement and provided additional details about the restructuring. You can read the full details below.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 Superintendent Announces Academic Restructuring for Pearce and Garcia Campuses for Next School Year At the June 20 Board of Trustees meeting, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen presented the district-wide preliminary Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) results, which included a discussion of two middle schools, Pearce and Garcia. Early performance results indicate that Garcia is likely to be rated Academically Unacceptable (AU) for the third time in the last four years and Pearce will be rated Academically Unacceptable for the fifth time in the last six years.  Dr. Carstarphen advised Trustees that the preliminary results had accelerated changes for the coming year at these two schools. Since preliminary projections show that Pearce Middle School will be AU and that Garcia Middle School is also likely to be AU, District leaders are continuing to implement the early college prep design to keep these schools on course with preparing the middle school students for the Early College High Schools at LBJ and Reagan. Because these changes can have a major impact on families, Dr. Carstarphen said that campus leaders have begun and will continue to talk with the families of Pearce and Garcia students in a number of ways, providing opportunities for their questions and their feedback, including: ·     Immediate outreach to the families of affected students—On Tuesday, June 21, Dr. Carstarphen called families to inform them of the changes. ·     Each family will also receive a letter explaining the changes in greater detail. ·     Community meetings with Pearce and Garcia families will be scheduled in July. Those needing information earlier, should contact the principal at their school. Pearce Middle School College Prep Model Work continues on the crucial action steps for the 2011-12 school year to begin the implementation of a comprehensive plan for an early college prep program for the following year. The Board and the Superintendent are continuing to take strong action to ensure local accountability for student performance.   The Superintendent and Board remain committed to the creation of an Early College Prep at Pearce Middle School that will provide a strong feeder to the Early College High Schools at Reagan and LBJ High Schools. This is to ensure that there is no academic drop-off in the transition of students from Pearce to the Early College High Schools at Reagan and LBJ. The school structure that best serves the needs of students at Pearce in 2011-12 will be to have rising 6th and 7th grade students attend Pearce under the leadership of Texanna Turner, currently the Middle School Director of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, who has agreed to take the reins of leadership at Pearce.  Ms. Turner will bring her wealth of experience and expertise of her successful tenure as a principal and leader of both elementary and secondary schools to design and institute a college ready program. “I am committed to implementing an early college prep program at Pearce Middle School to prepare students for college level work by using some of the effective strategies that we’ve used at the Ann Richards School,” Turner said. For the 8th graders, the District will create an 8th Grade College Prep Academy at Reagan High School, to be attended by the current rising 8th grade students from Pearce. Students in the 8th grade Early College Prep Academy will take all core classes and electives with other 8th grade students. The 8th grade Early College Prep Academy will be housed separately on the Reagan campus. “It is an exciting opportunity for all of us to build a strong college-going culture for our future Reagan and LBJ scholars who will be enrolling in our Early College High School programs,” Garza said.  “We look forward to welcoming the 8th grade students from Pearce to our campus.” Changes for Garcia Middle School Next year, students who are zoned for Garcia Middle School will attend 6th grade at their current elementary school to allow for major changes in the quality of education at Garcia Middle School. The school will continue serving 7th and 8th grade students in an academic program to prepare students for their future attendance at the Early College High Schools at Reagan and LBJ High Schools. Current Garcia Principal, Dr. Helen Johnson, will remain at the school and will focus on 7th and 8th grades only. Rising Garcia 6th graders will stay at their home elementary campuses for one year, where academic support will be stronger. These schools include Jordan, Overton, Sims, and Norman elementary schools. Due to space constraints, the rising 6th grade students at Jordan Elementary School will attend 6th grade at Overton Elementary School. The administration will ensure that all academic and elective options for the affected students are comparable to the experiences that other students receive in elementary schools with 6th grades. The District will also continue the implementation of its current transfer policy to accommodate any student in the District who wants to attend Garcia MS as a 7th or 8th grader. While current Garcia students are going forward with a college readiness curriculum, the District will be working to make major changes in the quality of education for future implementation at the school. These could include establishing high-performing gender-based academic programs or other early college prep designs. The District believes the changes in both schools will provide a significant jumpstart for the students of Pearce and Garcia on the road to college and meaningful careers.         For more information about the restructuring of Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools, or information about the 8th grade Early College Prep Academy at Reagan High School call Associate Superintendent of Middle Schools Bergeron Harris at 414-0038, or consult Superintendent Carstarphen’s Blog at:

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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